The call to climb came in at 10:30PM on Friday, and so Saturday morning involved an early dog walk in the rain followed by an optimistic trip to the Peak. Fortunately the day didn't disappoint.
Travelling north to pick up G, it turned from rainy in Burton to drizzly in Nottingham, to cloudy-but-bright at Baslow. We met up with some friends of G's (who all turned out to be thoroughly nice people), and wandered up to the Gun Buttress area via a rather vegetated 'footpath'. The others went off to Gullies Wall, while we started off on Gun Chimney, a short HVDiff which was just awkward enough for me to question why I ever bothered visiting grit. This was followed by the VS Pensioner's Bulge, which I think is the first Whillans route I've ever done. It was suggested that swearing, casual racism and sexism, and a flat cap might help us with an ascent in the traditional style, and the lack of all those things is my excuse for coming off just below an overlap with a big reach up. After a short rest I figured an alternative sequence to that taken by G, and very pleased with it I was too.
We then went to find the others, and had a play on a VS, Grounded Bees (there was actually a bumble bee at the top of the route who couldn't fly. Weird.) and two HVSs next to them (Renaissance and Resurgence). Tony joined us for these, which where much more delicate and called for far more finesse than our first two routes. I then heroically plucked up the courage to get back on the sharp end for the first time in six months and led a Diff and a VDiff, before soloing another VDiff (Broken Buttress – I'm not sure how it got that grade because it was really easy).
After getting my fill of grit and feeling suitable prepared for the summer ahead, I took the opportunity to go for a brief run from Baslow over to Birchen, where I knew some friends were climbing. I found Dave and Alison escaping the crowds at the far western end of the edge, while Chris and Ben were in the middle of a multi-pitch version of the classic Powder Monkey Parade. Arrangements were hastily made to rendezvous in the pub later, and I nipped back to Baslow to re-join everyone else. They wanted the traditional "one last route", so I returned to the car to get changed. It turned out that the "one last route" took an hour, but I wasn't complaining as it gave me time for an old-man power nap.
A quick drink in the pub turned into two and a half hours, and was followed by fish and chips at Stu's house and chatting until the early hours. For a day that started in the rain and was organised less than 12 hours in advance, I'd say that's a pretty good outcome.